Reflection on Our Class Exploring Rhizomatic Learning…

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I had another fabulous week! I am so lucky to have a wonderful bunch of grade two students this year that bring a positive energy into our classroom. After a busy week I was fortunate to get to spend time with my fiancé Damon this weekend because he has been working for three weeks straight. We were able to get a lot of wedding planning done and we got to meet with our photographer yesterday as well! I also got to visit with my friend from high school while I was back home Saturday night. The best part about the weekend was spending time with Damon, my parents, siblings, brother-in-law, and my amazing nephew yesterday. I love being able to call, text, and Facetime my family, but nothing beats spending quality time with loved ones in person. It is important to have balance in your life, but often times I get so wrapped up into work and school that I need to remind myself about balance.

It is crazy to believe in just in two days that it will already be October. I have learned so much in the last few weeks through taking my social media graduate class. On our way home last night I was able to read fellow students posts on our class Google Community plus account and blogs about their digital projects, resources they have found or are using, and Tuesday night’s class using the Google Community plus app on my phone. After reflecting on some of my classmates posts I can relate to mixed feelings about blackboard collaborate. Since I live two hours away from the university I appreciate not having to get out of the school fast at the end of the day to get to the city for an evening class. Then when class is over I do not have to drive back after a busy day and not get home until late. (Sometimes as late as midnight depending on the traffic and how fast I was able to get out of the city). I have found it easy to log into and I have been lucky that I have not had any major problems and glitches with blackboard collaborate. I like that students can be interactive and some of the tools available such as the raise your hand button to get the speakers attention. On Tuesday David Cormier talked to us about Rhizomatic Learning. The class had a great atmosphere which led to some fantastic conversations. At times it was overwhelming to follow what everyone was saying on the chat and listening to David at the same time. I wanted to be engaged in both aspects of the class, but it is an exciting problem because there were important questions and discussions that come out of the presentation. I did re-watch some of the class and saved the chat so I was able to reread everyone’s comments and questions during our class.

During last Tuesday nights class it made me reflect about my experience when I was a grade two representative for the east side of our school division on the Early Learning Committee. When we met we explored many great resources from the Ministry and other professional development books and articles that focused on early learning. I encourage everyone to check out the link that looks at the principles of early learning. I believe these principles should be called the principles of learning because all four of the principles are important for all students and can be adapted for older students.

http://www.education.gov.sk.ca/Default.aspx?DN=c711842e-23aa-4e82-b33d-4a530f8d4b2f

During the learning committee meetings we also discussed inquiry, student’s interests, and what the classroom would look like if teachers chose topics/projects that students were interested in. We explored the Reggio Emilia approach and philosophy in early learning and how to use that model when teaching older grades while teaching curricular outcomes. Here is on link that discusses the Reggio Emilia approach and I also added in some quotes that stood out of my mind when reading this article. It reminded me about what David said about Rhizomatic Learning.

http://www.aneverydaystory.com/beginners-guide-to-reggio-emilia/main-principles/

  •  “Children are capable of constructing their own learning.”
  • “They are driven by their interests to understand and know more.”
  • “The adult is a mentor and guide.”

Last year I set up learning invitations with students and did a few learning projects as a class while meeting curricular outcomes. I found it really worked with science and that I need to begin to use this method in more subject areas. I am looking forward to setting up projects that students want to do based on their interests and what they want to learn about while continuing to meet curricular outcomes.

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Expanding My Knowledge About Edublogs…

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On Friday I had five students hand in their parent permission forms to take part in our classroom blog!  I am hoping that more students will have hand in their forms tomorrow at school.  Today students did not have class as it was a Professional Development Day in our school division.  I am hoping to be able to start blogging with my students next week! (Crossing my fingers!)

Today on Twitter I saw that Alec retweeted a tweet that Sue Waters posted in regards to Edublog student blogging series.  It is a fantastic resource and I know it will come in handy as I continue to work on my classroom blog using Edublog.  The Edublog student blogging series is a step by step guide to help setting up a classroom blog. The link is:  http://teacherchallenge.edublogs.org/blogging-with-students/

Today I completed Step One!

Step One:

  • I watched a video that gave a overview of what a blog is.
  • I found the following link helpful because it allowed me to become more familiar with the blogging vocabulary and the different roles a user can be assigned to.  I am going to have my students be a contributor.  I like that they can write their own posts as a contributor, but can not publish them until my approval.  That way if a student submitted a post before I got to look at it I would still be able to review the post before others had access to reading it online. http://edublogs.org/curriculum-corner-setting-up/#anatomy
  • I spent a lot of time exploring examples of real class blogs.  It was nice to see the different age group of blogs and see how other teachers set up their blogs.  I know I will use a lot of their blogs as a guide until I before more comfortable with class blogging.
  • I am going to have my students draw a self portrait and use their self portraits as their Avatar. 🙂
  • I changed the time zone under the general settings in my Edublog account settings.
  • I am still playing around trying to decide what type of theme I would like to use for my classroom blog and what I would like it to look like.
  • Tomorrow before or after class I am going to work on Step Two! I am really excited for class tomorrow night and getting the opportunity to learn from Sue Waters.  I know tomorrow’s class is going to help me out a lot in my Digital Project journey exploring Classroom Blogs!

One Step Closer To Starting My Classroom Blog…

Today I received exciting news this morning from my principal!  My classroom blog proposal was approved by someone from the senior management team in my school division.  This afternoon I was able to send home a parent consent letter/form with all of my students!   I also made sure to see if parents approved the media portion (allows for pictures of their child on the school website, community newspaper, etc.) on their child’s student registration form too.  When I was creating my parent letter I turned to the Internet to help me out and used a few teachers letters as a guide when I created my parent letter.  I especially followed Jonah Salsich’s format and used a lot of his ideas/sentences when I created my parent letter.  I am grateful that he posted his letter to his blog as it was well written.  Thanks Jonah!  Here is the link to the PDF of Salshich’s parent letter for blogging.

http://jmsalsich.edublogs.org/files/2009/08/Blog-Letter-to-Parents-wlwitp.pdf

I am thrilled to begin blogging with my students and begin my journey.  This weekend I am going to make a plan on how I want to use blogging in my classroom and when my students will blog. Below is my edited version of Salshich’s parent letter that I sent home today to explain about our classroom blog and how it works.

Permission Letter to Parents About Using A Blog

Have a wonderful night! I am looking forward to my student’s returning their classroom blogs approval forms so I can begin posting to my classroom blog! 🙂

Reflection of Our Second EC&I831 Class and My Reflection On The Importance of Relationships…

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I really enjoyed our second class and Rick Schwier’s presentation on the History of Educational Technology. It made me reflect when I was going to school and the tools that my teachers used to teach me when I was in elementary school. I remember using Speak & Spell, a cassette recorder to record our reading, and Mavis Beacon to learn typing skills to name a few. It was exciting when the chalk boards were changed to white boards. I remember my teachers using overheads to show us images, demonstrations with counters, or showing us our class notes. Teaching now has been very exciting in terms of technology! As a teacher there are so many tools and programs that I can use to help me plan and deliver a lesson.  I am lucky to have a Smartboard in my classroom and I like using the document camera to project images, books, or to use it to give the students a better visual when I am demonstrating a concept in math.

During our class Rick talked about social media and how people can use it to make connections. I agree that it can be a powerful tool as an educator. For example, I never expected to like Twitter as much as I do. I have been able to connect with classmates from our class and other amazing educators. In the class few weeks I have learned about available links, apps, and tools I can use through Twitter and Google Community class posts. I have also read some thought provoking blogs by my fellow classmates. Through reading their blogs it has allowed me to reflect on my own experiences and taught me some new things that I never knew before about education and technology. I have been really enjoying this online class, but I do miss the face to face interaction with people and having more in-depth conversations with other classmates.

Rick mentioned during our class the TED Talk video called “The Social Animal” by David Brooks. In the video David discussed non-verbal communication and the importance of it. Humans are social people and communication skills is very important to have, especially as an educator. After watching this video made me reflect back to August when we watched another TED Talk video called “Every Kid Needs a Champion” by Rita Pierson. In education it is important for teachers to make connections with other teachers, support staff, parents, and of course our students. Pierson commented in the video that we need to start talking about “The value and importance of human connection…relationship.” Everyone wants to feel like they belong and are included. Education is about creating a community of learners!

Here is the link to the video. She has a very powerful message about the importance of creating a positive relationship with your students!

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Creating A Classroom Blog…

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I am excited that I began my journey in creating a classroom blog tonight! I created my grade two classroom blog using Edublog. After doing some exploring I liked the options that I read about and being able to create student blogs linked to our classroom blog page. I am looking forward to trying blogs as a new way to create digital portfolios! I am thrilled that parents, students, and their families are able to go online and see what our classroom as been learning about and having the chance to make comments on our page. Students love when they have a purpose and an audience to read their work. I know I will be doing a lot of learning and reading in the next few months exploring how I want to organize my blog, finding out all the different options available to add to my blog page, and new ways I can document student learning. So far I have decided on the theme of the page and tomorrow I will continue to work more on the lay out.

Once I have my blog more organized and up and running I will share the link!! I have always talked about creating a classroom blog, but I would stop myself because the blogging world was unknown to me. I am proud of myself because I took a step outside of my box and that I am trying something new! I am nervous, but eager to introduce blogging to my grade two students.

Digital Citizenship Webinar…

digital citizenshipTonight I had the pleasure of participating in a webinar presented by Kathy Cassidy that focused on Digital Citizenship.  I love that we have fabulous teachers right in our province doing amazing and innovative things in their classrooms.  Thank you to Raelynn Smith for tweeting about the webinar this week on Twitter.  In one week of having Twitter I can see how useful it can be as an educator.  I have been able to follow some wonderful teachers who have shared some great resources already so far.

From this webinar I was able to get some excellent tips and ideas when I begin to teach Digital Citizenship to my students.  During the hour Kathy discussed why it was important and commented that “their world will be digital.”  I agree because most students now have access to computers, iPads, iPhones, etc. and they need to be prepared in how to use these tools appropriately.  She also discussed that students need to learn that “what goes online…stays online.”  I think that is something that people do forget about.  There have been cases that old negative comments, pictures, or videos that have been posted online have prevented people from great opportunities later on when they get older. Kathy talked about the importance of students building a positive digital footprint and she poses questions to her students such as “What do people think of you when they see you online?  What do you know about that person?  Would you want to have this person as your friend? How do you want other people to think about you?”  I thought those were excellent questions so students could reflect on their blog page and what other students might think about them by reading their posts and comments.  It is important for students to be safe, respectful, and kind to each other when using technology.

Also in the webinar Kathy discussed her classroom blog.  Some of the blog apps that she mentioned were the Edublog app, Easy blogger app, and the Easy blogger junior app.  Later on Kathy talked about parents need to sign a permission form.  In her school division they have a division form that parents must fill out that allows teachers and the school to post students work and pictures online.  She also has parents and students sign an acceptable use form.  When students blog they use iPads and work together with other students in the classroom.  I think that is very powerful because I believe that students learn more through collaboration.  I like how Kathy has a rule that students can not publish to their blog or Twitter account without her looking at the posts or tweets first.  She mentioned that on her student’s blog pages they do not post any pictures on the individual blogs to avoid names and pictures matching up together.  But, she does post pictures of the students onto her classroom blog page.  She also showed us a chart that she posts in her room to help remind students how to write good comments when posting on a blog:

  1. say something you like
  2. make a connection
  3. ask a question
  4. reread the comments

I never thought about all the learning and curricular outcomes that can be reached by having students blog until this webinar.  It is great for working on writing skills and self editing.  It gives students an audience and a purpose to write.  It also provides students the opportunity to reflect on their work and set goals.  Kathy discussed that blogs can become a student portfolio and samples of work can be posted on blog by using screencasts, podcasts, or pictures to showcase learning.  Students can read each other’s blogs and classroom tweets on Twitter during read to self or read to partner.  Blogs can also be opened on the Smartboard then students can read the posts and comments together as a class.

This webinar made me reflect about our Pink Day events that we had last year at our school.  We had a presentation that discussed the acronym THINK and that students need to THINK before they talk, text, or write to someone using any form of technology.  We have THINK posters hanging up in our school as good reminders to students on how to be kind, respectful, and to fill other people’s buckets instead of being bucket dippers.  Here are two different versions of similar posters that we have posted in our school.

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  Photo Credit: ToGa Wanderings via Compfight cc

Thank you for reading my blog today.  I know I wrote a lot, but I did not want to forget everything that Kathy talked about and that I learned from her webinar today.  If you ever get the opportunity to hear Kathy Cassidy speak I highly recommend it!!  Check out Kathy’s fabulous class blog and you can follow her on Twitter.  Now I am excited to start the process in creating my own classroom blog! Let the learning begin!!

Life Is A Journey…

When I was growing up I always made a plan and set goals for myself. I enjoyed getting involved in school and extra-curricular activities.  Once I got to high school I had to opportunity to help teach dance at my studio to the younger students along with my dance teacher Tanya.  That experience opened my mind to the possibility of wanting to pursue a degree in education. Watching students develop their skills, get excited when they nailed a step, and grow as dancers was a rewarding experience. I knew that I wanted to continue to work with students and teach for the rest of my life. I am so happy that I decided to become a teacher. The exciting part about teaching is that every day and every year is never the same. Teaching is one profession that is always evolving with new curriculums, teaching strategies, resources, etc. so that can be challenging at times, but I love it!

Now I am continuing my journey by pursuing my master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. I always thought about going back to university after I got my bachelors degree and last year I talked about it often with my family, friends, and colleagues. With the support from everyone especially my fiancé I applied to go back to school. I am so glad that I did because taking classes at the University of Regina again has been an amazing experience. Now I am currently in my third master’s class that focuses on social media and open education. I am thrilled to explore the possibilities that this class has to offer! “Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome” Arthur Ashe.